AT-KABUL: Community elders, civil society activists, religiousscholars and media representatives in the central highlands province ofDaikundi gathered at an UN-backed symposium to strategize on ways to promotesocial cohesion, both locally and nationally, in the interest of advancingpeace.
More than 20 community leaders attended the event, organized by UNAMA’s Bamyan regional office, to exchange ideas about the main factors affecting social cohesion in the province and across Afghanistan, and to chart out possible next steps toward peace.
Speaking at the event in the provincial capital, Boman Sherband, the deputy head of Daikundi’s peace committee, said that every Afghan must play a role in promoting peace, starting from building consensus and social cohesion among different political and ethnic groups.
“Religious scholars, civil society, community elders and media outlets have an especially important role to play, given their influence in the community,” stressed Sherband. “We must understand that conflict affects all of us; thus, all of us must feel responsible toward building peace.”
Other participants at the symposium offered similar perspectives as they discussed the need for more development initiatives, job opportunities and political solidarity to build community cohesion.
Hussain Fayaz, a university professor, explained that social cohesion is built through friendship and respect as an inner force among humans for living peacefully together, and noted that external factors, including security threats, can serve to unite communities.
“Through promoting friendship and respecting each other’s rights, we can overcome the ethnic and religious differences in Afghanistan and help bring an end to the longstanding conflict in the country,” stressed Fayaz.
At the conclusion of the event, the participants jointly resolved to carry the discussion forward among their respective communities in future events and engagements.
The discussion was followed by a roundtable radio programme, on the same topic, aired to an estimated 120,000 listeners in and around Daikundi.
Established around a decade ago, Daikundi is a mostly rural province, with many villages lacking basic infrastructure and most of its population consisting of small agricultural communities.
The Daikundi symposium is one of many other similar programmes, events and initiatives resulting from UNAMA reaching out to a range of groups across the country to create spaces, both physical and on social media, for them to come together and discuss issues that are of critical importance to them, and to strategize on the best way forward.
At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides ‘good offices’ and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.